PHILADELPHIA -- With five walks through the first three innings, Brandon Woodruff was playing with fire. He hadn’t allowed a run against the Phillies, but Philadelphia had stranded five runners on base, threatening in each frame.
“That was huge,” Woodruff said after Milwaukee's 6-1 victory. “Getting out of that inning with a double play kind of propelled me there into the middle innings. I was able to settle in, come back out and just try to get some weak contact.”
Woodruff retired the next nine Phillies, finishing his night with six shutout innings of one-hit ball. The five walks were not ideal, but they didn’t hurt him in the end as he won his fourth straight start.
“The lead always makes it easier to just get yourself into attack mode,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s really what he did. He dropped in some first-pitch strikes with some breaking balls, got free strikes, then attacked. Getting a lead for him does that for you. You can pitch like that.”
Woodruff is 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his past four starts, improving to 6-1 with a 3.72 ERA in nine starts this season.
“I think he pitched pretty well a couple of those early starts and he ended up giving up some runs with some unfortunate sequences,” Counsell said. “He’s now just continued pitching well, taking another step and is really on the attack with hitters. The fastball is really overpowering at times, it feels like. He’s using it well, he’s throwing his off-speed for strikes; it’s a good recipe for success.”
Déjà vu all over again
The moment Travis Shaw felt what he described as a “sharp pain” in his right wrist on a swing in the sixth inning Monday night, he knew what had happened.
The pain was in the exact same spot as the injury he dealt with last season, though instead of playing through it as he did in 2018, the infielder was placed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday.
“It’s not as bad as last year,” Shaw said. “It’s kind of sore today, but it’s the exact pinpoint location that was last year. … I don’t really know what to think of it right now. We’ll wait a couple days and see how it feels.”
Shaw’s injury opened the door for Keston Hiura, the Brewers’ No. 1 prospect, who was promoted from Triple-A and inserted immediately into Milwaukee’s lineup. Shaw will rest his wrist for the next three days, then be reevaluated Friday in Atlanta.
Manager Craig Counsell said if Shaw has “turned the corner,” he will remain with the team. If not, he’ll head back to Milwaukee. General manager David Stearns said that, as of now, Shaw will not undergo an MRI.
“The only reason there’s a level of concern is that it’s the second year in a row he’s had this exact same tweak, but we certainly believe this is something he’s going to get through,” Stearns said. “We want to make sure it’s right when he comes back. Maybe this allows him to reset the season a little bit. If that’s what gets him going, that’s just fine.”
Shaw has battled through a difficult season, posting a .163/.266/.281 slash line with four home runs and eight RBIs in 40 games. He was out of the starting lineup during last weekend’s three-game series against the Cubs, spending much of his time working in the cage and in early batting practice trying to figure out what was wrong with his swing.
Monday, Shaw expressed great optimism that the extra work would pay off, but the ill-fated swing in the sixth inning has thrown another wrench into an already trying season.
“It is what it is. This isn’t ideal. This year hasn’t been ideal,” Shaw said. “I played through it last year; I shouldn’t have played through it last year. I don’t think it’s as bad, but it’s the same location and the same type of injury. Having gone through it last year, there’s no point. I haven’t been swinging the bat that well, anyway. Why make it even harder?”
Back in action
Braun returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Friday, his sore left hamstring feeling well enough to give it a go. Braun went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in the third, his 14th career blast at Citizens Bank Park.
“It’s good to see Ryan after missing a couple games,” Counsell said. “I don’t know what it is about this park, but he does love hitting here.”
That’s an understatement. Braun’s .406 average (58-for-143) is the highest by any player in history with at least 120 at-bats at the ballpark, more than 40 points ahead of the next-closest player.
Chase Anderson rejoined the Brewers after pitching four innings in a rehab outing for Triple-A San Antonio on Monday night. Anderson, on the IL with a right middle finger injury, threw 58 pitches in what was expected to be his lone rehab outing.
Counsell expects Anderson to be activated later this week, though his role is still yet to be determined.